After Louise fell asleep, I stepped across space and carried her to her room.
Louise’s room was rather girlish, a bit unexpected from a strong girl like her, but rather cute too. I smiled softly while carrying her to the bed.
After a kiss on her forehead and seeing the smile on her face, I left her room. I would have liked to stay a while longer, but the people in the mansion will probably suspect something if both Louise and I are gone for longer than this.
After I left the room, I wandered the mansion aimlessly. At the same time, I checked on some documents I had seen in the Earl’s office and copied with magic.
But as expected, I was unable to find anything useful in them. Well, the earl looks like the careful kind. He surely will not let something that can be used against him in his office.
While I was walking around the mansion, I meet Mia again.
“Prince Claus? I was searching for you. Where is Louise?”
“Oh, mother-in-law. Louise said that she was tired, so she went to rest.”
“Tired? How weird. Louise normally doesn’t sleep so early.”
Almost instantly, Mia froze.
Then, an expression of realization appeared on her face.
One second later, she looked at me with a strange expression.
“I wonder what kind of extraneous physical activity she went through to fall asleep so early.”
I let out a cough to hide my awkwardness and changed the topic.
“Anyway, why were you searching for me?”
“Oh, that is right. Come, I’ll show you to your room.”
I nodded and followed behind Mia.
During the way, Mia was silent. Only when we reached the room, she opened her mouth.
“Claus, I’m sorry for my husband’s behavior today. Don’t worry, even although he is like that, Louise is his daughter. He will not make things too difficult for the two of you.”
I fell silent for a moment and looked at Mia carefully.
Thinking about it, this a good opportunity to bring Mia to my side.
From what I have seen of her personality, Mia is not someone evil or scheming. Quite the opposite, she is a nice person. To say it nicely, she is something with outstanding morality and values between the nobles. To say it bluntly, she is a bit naïve for a noble of her position.
Thus, if I play my cards right, I can probably make her take the initiative to come to my side, and my bed, in the nearby future.
After organizing my thoughts, I opened my mouth.
“Mother-in-law. No, Mia, do you know what the origin of the conflict between your husband and me is?”
Mia opened her mouth to say something, but in the end, she said nothing.
“It looks like you know.”
Mia smiled bitterly. “It’s your throne, right?”
I shook my head. “No, it’s my mother.”
Mia was startled, but I continued without minding it. “There are two main culprits behind my mother’s death. The first one is the emperor. His distrust, unfounded jealously, and possessive tendencies drove mother to her death. The second person is the empress. She used her words to fan the suspicions of the emperor and used her power in the palace to pressure my mother as much as she could. Such actions made my mother’s life very miserable, draining her will to live and finally killing her.
“But although the two of them are the main culprits, they are not the only people behind it. Mia, Earl Carson is also related to this, right?”
Mia entered in panic. “No! Although my husband is a bit ambitious, he did not have any reason to make your mother to di–”
“But he did have a reason.” I interrupted Mia with an indifferent voice. “Earl Carson is an ambitious man whose goal is to bring the Riea family to greater heights. Thus, when the emperor married Lilia, the current empress, he found his opportunity.
“Making use of Lilia, and later of Alan as crown prince, Earl Carson planned to make the Riea family the strongest family of the empire. Once Alan was crowned as the emperor, Earl Carson will be one of the closest people to the emperor and the empress dowager.
“Unfortunately, an obstacle appeared on his plans. It was my mother.
“It’s not a secret that the emperor loved my mother more than the empress. He was obsessed with her. Thus, the earl feared that once mother gave birth to a male child, the emperor would disregard everything to make him the crown prince, am I right? Thus, the earl supported the empress behind scenes when she started her plan to get rid of my mother.”
“… These are just your conjectures. You don’t have proof your words are right.” Mia denied it immediately.
I just smiled calmly. “You are right. They are just conjectures. But, why the earl wants to kill me?”
Mia froze before that question.
“W-What are you saying?”
I looked straight to her eyes with a calm look. “I’m asking you, why does the earl want to kill me ?”
“Let’s be honest.” I continued. “There is no reason for the Earl to be opposed to Louise marrying me. In the end, I’m also a prince. My status is more than enough to match her.
“But you saw his reaction today. It’s obvious he loathes that possibility. It’s because the Earl sees me as an obstacle. An impediment between him and the success of his family. In fact, I’m one hundred percent sure that the reason Louise approached me the first time was under the orders of the earl. Did he want to use Louise to get information about me? Maybe about my master?”
I smiled. “Your reaction tells me I’m right.”
“P-Prince, L-Louise loves you. S-She is n–”
“I know Louise loves me.” I interrupted Mia again. “Don’t worry, I’m clear about it. I will not fault Louise for that either. Back then, our positions were different. What she did was something normal. But–”
I smiled with a mischievous look.
“How do you think the earl feels now that her plan backfired in such a way. Hehe, he probably feels like he was played as a fool. The chess piece he sent to infiltrate the enemy ended really turning into his enemy. I’m sure he hates my guts due to that.”
I looked at the room in front of me with a casual expression. “But coming back to the topic, the fact that the earl sent Louise back then proves that he was already plotting against me since long ago. In fact, the plan to kill me is already going on. That plan even includes taking care of Louise.”
“That is not true!” Mia refuted me fiercely. “Even if he is like that, he will never do something that harms his daughter!”
“Do you truly believe that?” I asked with a mocking expression. “Mia, do you truly think your husband will not sacrifice his daughter if he considers it necessary?”
“Then, do you want to make a bet with me?”
Mia looked at me perplexed.
“Let’s bet in the fact that the earl doesn’t dare to harm his daughter. Tomorrow starts the institute’s expedition. That is when the plan to kill me will start. So let’s bet in the fact that he will not dare to put Louise’s life in danger.”
Mia turned pale. Just the possibility of my words being true filled her with fear.
“Don’t worry.” I continued in a relaxed tone. “I know about his plan, so I will make sure that Louise is not hurt regardless of whatever he tries. Then, will you bet with me?”
“… Why do you know all of this?”
“Well, I have my sources.” I said with an innocent smile.
“… What are we going to bet?” After a few seconds of silence, Mia spoke.
I curved my lips up. “What do you think of a favor? If I win, you will owe me a favor. If you win, I’ll owe you a favor.”
“A favor?” Mia was confused.
“Yes. Don’t underestimate it, it can be very useful. For example, if one day your husband loses the battle for power, you can use that favor to save his life.”
“B-Battle? What do you mean?”
I sighed exasperatedly. “Think about it, Mia. I even managed to get information about the earl’s plan to kill me. How do you think I did it?”
“You… You have a faction behind you!”
I shook my head. “More accurately, I have a faction under me. These are my preparations for when I have to fight the emperor and the empress.”
Mia turned completely pale.
These words I just said, they were basically treason!
“You… W-Why are you telling me something like this? D-Don’t you fear I will tell my husband about it?”
I curved my lips up slightly. “I know you won’t.” I said with conviction. “You are not that kind of person.” Besides, I put a suggestion in your mind to prevent that, just that you did not notice.
Mia was stunned. One second later, she laughed bitterly.
“Prince Claus, you are very frightening.”
“Thank you.” I bowed with a comic expression. “Unfortunately, some ignorant people can’t see it. Then, are you going to bet with me?”
Mia bit her lips. For some reason, she had the feeling she was slowly falling into a very sticky net.
But unfortunately, she could not refuse.
After hearing my words, she started to think about the possibility of her husband losing.
Before this, she never even imagined it. But now, she could not avoid but think, ‘what if?’
More when she faced this side of me she had never seen.
Besides, she trusted that her husband was not going to hurt Louise.
“Very well, I agree.”
I smiled like a devil who successfully fooled a mortal. “Great, Mia. Don’t worry, I’m a man of my word.”
Mia looked at me for a few seconds and sighed. “Please, take care of my daughter. It’s late, I’ll be going.”
“Good night.” I said.
“… Good night.”
Once I was sure Mia was gone, I entered my room.
Mia, Mia. Even if your husband was not planning to hurt Louise, he will definitively choose to hurt her.
I know people like him well. When he had to make his choice, he will choose his ambitions over his family.
Lying on my bed, I entered deep into thought about the future.
But this night was destined to be a busy one.
One hour after the lights of the mansion were turned off, someone opened the door of my room.
“… Brother-in-law? Are you awake.”
Current schedule: 10 Chapters/week